Senate debates

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Questions without Notice

Biosecurity

2:57 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party, Minister for Agriculture) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you very much, Senator. The risks are very real. Just one pest, the red imported fire ant, would have a potential impact of $1.5 billion a year nationwide if it were to become established. We know that the state of Texas in the USA is already spending $1.2 billion a year to control the ant, repairing the damage it causes and covering medical costs. Our sugar cane farmers do not want to have these pests in their crops, but we also, similarly, as community members, don't want them in our barbecues or in our kids' playgrounds.

The risks are real. They impact our farmer's ability to export their clean green produce and they impact our communities. The number of consignments arriving via the air cargo pathway is growing, as are the risks. Volumes have increased from 15 million consignments in 2011-12 to 50 million just this last financial year. There are 2.5 million consignments inbound on international arrivals by air—

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